Provisional Electric Bill Hike Begins Monday
SAN JUAN – A provisional hike of 1.299 cents per kilowatt-hour in Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) rates goes into effect Monday for all customers as part of an agreement to restructure the public utility’s $9 billion debt.
The rate hike will cover a $222.25 million annual revenue shortfall and will remain in effect while the Puerto Rico Energy Commission (PREC) considers a permanent rate hike request from the utility. The rate increase process is separate from a transition charge of 3.10 cents per kilowatt-hour and an adjustment mechanism to be imposed on all customers to pay for a bond exchange that has yet to be carried out.
The provisional rate hike is slated to go into effect after Prepa programmed power outages across the island to repair the Aguirre powerplant, which was damaged by a fire last week.
The commission approved the provisional hike in June after Prepa filed a request May 27 to increase utility rates. After requesting additional documents, the commission deemed Prepa’s petition complete on July 15 and now has until January to review the request and make a final determination.
The commission warned Prepa that it will not limit the proceedings of the proposed rate hike to a mathematical evaluation of the matter, but that it will make sure the costs recovered through the rates reflect “sound operational and administrative practices.”
“The Commission will conduct a thorough analysis of Prepa’s operations and will ensure the performance results in a high-quality service at the lowest possible cost,” the three-person panel warned Prepa.
Any person or entity that has a legitimate interest in the proceedings may file a request to intervene starting Monday. Requests filed after the Friday deadline will be evaluated by the commission only if there are extraordinary circumstances for the late filing.
All intervention requests must comply with a series of requirements that include being familiarized with Prepa’s voluminous request and accompanying documents. “The petitioner shall establish that it has sufficient resources and the technical, professional, academic and practical knowledge needed to guarantee an informed and active intervention that results in the enrichment of the proceeding before the Commission,” the order reads.
The commission will evaluate if a petitioner has a legitimate interest, no other legal means to protect his or her interests, whether the intervention will help prepare a more complete docket of the proceeding, whether it is not repetitive testimony, whether the petitioner has specialized information or represents a group to determine if it gives the green light to the intervention.
The commission said it will provide a separate process for the general public to participate in.